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Lovecraftian Horror: Fear of the Unknown

H.P. Lovecraft is one of the celebrated writers of the horror genre, so much so that his works have defined a whole new genre: The Lovecraftian Horror. This sub genre of the terrifying unknowable gives a whole new level of nightmare to it’s readers.

How about the horror you feel when the light goes off and you’re in an empty dark house all alone? Or the helplessness and terror you feel in a totally whiteout snow storm or when your boat is stuck in the middle of a sea-storm. The speculation of what can happen next terrifies you. Lovecraftian horror feeds on this terror and drives you into such a situation where you’re forced to accept the fact that there is so little you can do to change or fight the cosmic forces that shape the world. So, basically it’s a crash between the known and the unknown with a layer of science. Even intensive psychological researches have not been able to decode a complete understanding of the brain, there are certain blind spots. And Lovecraftian horror loves to exploit the unknown of the mind. Thus this genre is not just about bloodbaths, evil spirits and ghosts, it is a psychological thriller. This is what makes it so intense and different.

What is Cosmicism?

Cosmicism is literary philosophy which was introduced into literature by H.P. Lovecraft. It somewhat shares the ideas of nihilism (all knowledge and values are baseless), but it emphasizes more on the insignificance of humanity. It states “that there is no recognizable divine presence in the universe, and humans are particularly insignificant in the larger scheme of intergalactic existence. Thus, humans are at the mercy of the vastness and the emptiness of the cosmos. To the forces of the cosmos humans are as insignificant as insects are to humans. Therefore, it acts as a skeleton for Lovecraftian Horror. He also gave birth to aliens like the, ‘Elder Things’ and deities like “the Great Old Ones”, his works are a temple of ancient powerful deities from space. Thus, introducing the fictional idea of Cthulhu Mythos.

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H.P. Lovecraft and his works

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”

H.P. Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft believed that the cosmos is scary enough so he skipped the use of supernatural elements in his books. His best works are a process of discovery for a protagonist. Usually the story subsides into insanity and plenty of screaming.The creator of Lovecraftian horror also created some problems for himself. H.P Lovecraft and his works reflected racist views. He was widely criticized for advocating white supremacy. The antagonists of his works were usually people who are not of English descent or non-Anglo Saxon races. But otherwise everything that you hear about Lovecraft are praises for his excellent works. Let’s introduce you to some of his bests.

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories

Claimed to be Lovecraft’s most noteworthy books, this is an anthology of 18 stories with suspenseful horror. It is named after one of it’s short stories: The Call of the Cthulhu.

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What is the Cthulhu? An octopus, a dragon or a human caricature with a tentacled head and wings. Well, it definitely is a symbol of terror in this eerie collection of short stories. The Call of the Cthulhu evolves around an ancient hybrid sea monster that lodges itself into the human subconscious and slowly drives them insane. As the narrator is exposed to the details and the history of the creature he deduces that it’s next to impossible to save oneself from such a powerful being. Read this amazingly grotesque story and find out what happens next. The Rats in the Walls is another eerie story in the anthology. It’s about a man who is petrified by the sound of rats in his family home, what happens next is unbelievable.

The Shadow Over Innsmouth

This book is a landmark Lovecraftian work. It is one of the foundational works of Lovecraft’s mythos. It revolves around Robert Olmstead who is intrigued by the mysterious Innsmouth village. The people of Innsmouth have peculiar physical features, ideally they have devoted themselves to creepy fish-like humanoids: the “Deep Ones” Later, he realises that his adventure is about to get him into trouble as he could be the next prey. Prey of humans or monsters or human-like monsters? Who are the “Deep ones”? That’s for you to find out!

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At the Mountains of Madness

H. P. Lovecraft’s skill at world-building gives his audience another thrilling horror story. This seemingly realistic story is all about what happens after a failed Antarctic expedition. As the disappointed professor Dyer and his colleagues arrive at their base, they come across the remains of a pre-historic species. Their enthusiasm soon takes shape of terror as the specimens may not be so lifeless after all. Instead of speculating what happens next, why not just read the book. It’s a prime example of Lovecraftian Horror.

The Shadow Out of Time

Now there is another addition to Lovecraft’s strange creatures: the Great Race of Yith. These aliens can travel through space and time. Unfortunately, Professor Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee consciousness seems to be linked with one of the Yithians. The confusion and terror that is build in the story is backed up by a deep insight into the Yithian culture and history. It also delves into the study of all forms of civilizations throughout space and time. This novella is a must in your bucket-list of books.

While Prolific writers like Stephan King, Shirley Jackson and Edgar Allan Poe introduced us to the terror of something, a quest between good and evil, Lovecraft gives us the terror of nothing, a quest with the cosmos. Some of the best works inspired by Lovecraft’s theory of cosmicism are:

Kaveri Yadav
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